Maximize Your Savings: Tips to help you save even more!


Posted on : 08-09-2011 | By : Trish | In : Coupon Matchups, Daily Deals

Coupons are a fabulous way to save money on just about everything. There are more coupons in circulation now than there has ever been. But, there is more you can do to increase your savings when you shop.

We all have our favorite stores. Mine is Target. I’ve heard the debates on Wal-Mart vs. Target, and I stand firmly on the Target side. When Wal-Mart is cheaper, it’s usually only by a few cents. Wal-Mart has a ton of stuff, but when you really look at it, there isn’t much selection. They carry a few brands of every item, but very few. Target, on the other hand, has a much wider selection. They have very competitive, and quite often cheaper prices. And, Target is very coupon friendly. In Wal-Mart’s defense, they have recently become much more coupon friendly as well.

Okay, sorry for the detour. Here’s how I maximize my savings at Target and how you can do the same at your favorite stores.

  • Bring your own bags. At two of my favorite stores, Target and Bi-Lo, you get 5 cents for every bag you bring in. That’s usually no more than $0.50, but it’s just like having a secret coupon.
  • Walk the perimeter of the store. Wherever you shop, find the clearance section. At Target, the clearance merchandise is along the perimeter. Follow the walls, and you’ll find the savings. At Bi-Lo, they have purple tags on clearance items. All other tags are red, so it’s pretty easy to spot the purple ones as you shop. Find the clearance section or route and pay it a little visit each time you go.
  • Sign up for deals by email and/or text. Target sends me a text every month with fabulous in-store coupons. I was able to get free shorts last month with a $5 off coupon on my phone. The shorts were on clearance for $4.48, so just because I signed up for their texts, I got a great freebie! Bi-Lo emails great deals and e-coupons a couple of times every month.
  • Sign up for the loyalty card. Target doesn’t have a loyalty card, but most grocery stores do. Once you have your loyalty card, be sure to sign up for e-coupons from the store, or from sites like SavingStar or Cellfire. These coupons are loaded straight to your card. The savings comes off instantly when you scan your card at checkout.
  • Use coupons! One of my favorite things about Target….okay, maybe my very favorite thing, is their printable coupons. is my first stop when I’m looking for coupons. They usually have over 100 coupons available, with a combination of store and manufacturer coupons. You can use both types of coupon on a single item! Print out your Target coupons, find a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item, and really maximize your savings. My Bi-Lo also accepts competitor coupons, so I can use my Target coupons there as well.
  • One more tip that is geared specifically toward Target is to sign up for the Red Card. I am not one to encourage credit cards, but Target has a store debit card that is linked to your checking account. It is not a credit card, there is no bill, no interest, no payment. It’s just like using your own debit card. When you use the Red Card, you automatically save 5% off your total! Granted, 5% isn’t really that much, $5 off $100. But, just like the bags, it’s a boost. The Red Card is like having your own secret coupon.

So, this post turned into a shopper’s guide for Target, but these tips can be applied to your store as well. Find out all the little secret savings tips at your own favorite store. Do you get credit for bags? Where is the clearance merchandise? Is there an email or text list? What is the coupon policy?

Learn your store and maximize your savings!

Do you have a tip for saving more money? Please share!


20 Tips to Save Money and Reduce Bills


Posted on : 10-04-2011 | By : Trish | In : Activities and Entertainment, Daily Deals, Free Stuff

There are a number of ways to cut costs and lower your bills without making huge sacrifices. Start out by making small adjustments to your everyday habits and watch the savings pile up!

  1. Ditch Cable! I know, I know…I said no huge sacrifices. 🙂 But cutting the cable doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice. With a digital converter box, most of us can get all of the major networks and PBS channels. For cable shows, check out Hulu, a service that lets you stream shows to your computer for free! For movies, try Netflix. For less than $10 a month, you can get DVD’s delivered and stream movies to your computer or gaming system! Check into a Roku player to stream all of your Netflix movies and more to your TV. Roku starts at $59. Check it out here:
  2. The Affordable On Demand Player! Click here! The box comes with 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

  3. Dump the Movie Channels. Okay, so you just can’t bring yourself to cancel the cable. If you subscribe to premium movie channels, you can at least dump those. Again, Hulu has your series for free. Even if you don’t plan to actually get rid of them, call the cable or satellite company and tell them that you don’t want the premium channels anymore. You’re highly likely to get offered a pretty deep discount to keep them! If not, just get the Roku & a Netflix subscription. The Roku will pay for itself in 2 months!
  4. Trim your home phone bill. If you still have a home phone (I just feel better with a landline!), cut it down to the bare minimum. Ditch voicemail for a $15 digital answering machine. Use the machine to screen calls and ditch caller ID while you’re at it. Do you really need call waiting? If you’re on the line when a friend or family member calls, they’ll most likely try your cell next anyway 🙂  See what services you can live without and call your phone company to dump them.
  5. Bundle Your Services. Most phone or cable companies offer bundles of phone, internet, cable, and even wireless service. And those bundles are usually cheaper than paying for each separately. Check into it and see how much you can save by combining services!
  6. Turn off the Lights! This one is obvious, but important. If you’re not using it, turn it off. There are lots of ways to cut your electric bill, but the easiest is to just turn off the lights when you’re not in the room.
  7. Change the Lights. Compact flourescent bulbs can actually make a pretty big difference in your electric bill. Replace all of your regular bulbs with CFL’s or LED’s to save a couple of dollars a month. It adds up!
  8. Wash in cold water. Wash clothes in cold water. I was never big on this one until I got a washer with a faulty hot inlet. I couldn’t wash in hot because it would’ve taken 3 hours for the washer to fill. There was no difference. My clothes still came out just as clean using cold water as they did with hot.
  9. Open the windows! Ahh, I love spring! One of my favorite parts about this time of year is opening the windows. If it’s a bit too hot, turn on ceiling or floor fans. You’ll save a ton just by turning off the a/c and letting the fresh air in. And if you’ve come across this post when it’s not spring, adjust your thermostat when you’re not home and when you’re sleeping. When you are home, go for 72 in the summer and 68 in the winter.
  10. Use your Crock Pot. Crock pot cooking saves time and money. It’s not only easier on you, but it uses less electricity. Throw in a roast or chicken and some veggies in the morning, and have a delicious dinner in the evening. Yum!
  11. Cook out. Using your grill is a great way to cut your electric bill! You’re not only eliminating electricity for the cooking, but you’re cutting down on the clean up as well. You can wrap veggies in foil and throw them on the grill with your main course!
  12. Cut Down on Eating Out. This one can be hard, but can probably save more money than anything. Write down everything you spend eating out for one month. The cost is incredible and largely unnecessary. Pack your lunch and make dinner at home. Use dinner leftovers for lunch. Take healthy snacks to work with you to avoid the dreaded snack machine. Make coffee at home. That’s a hard one for those of you addicted to your fru-fru coffee drinks, but give it a try. If you like flavored coffees, try a flavored creamer. There are a ton of them available now in just about every flavor you can imagine! You’ll be amazed at how much you can save in a month. Save eating out & expensive coffees for a special treat.
  13. Check out the clearance section. I am a clearance junkie! I don’t think I have a single piece of clothing that I’ve paid full price for. The “end of the season” starts right in the middle of the season! You can find clearance swimsuits in July and clearance coats in January! There is more than just clothing on clearance, as well. I always walk the perimeter of Target. They do have clearance items in the aisles, but the biggest clearance sections are on the endcaps closest to the wall.
  14. Go to a thrift store. If you’re not a thrift store shopper, you may be surprised at some of the high quality items you’ll find there. Thrift stores usually have clothes, books, housewares, and more. Find one (or a few) locally and just check it out.
  15. Shop at “junk stores.”  That’s probably not the official name of them, but find stores in your area that carry returns and discontinued items.  We have a “Sundry Store” locally that carries discontinued items as well as items in damaged packaging. Diapers, feminine products, toilet paper, medicines, makeup, shampoo, body wash, laundry detergent, etc., etc. I love that place!
  16. Try a garage sale. Garage sales are awesome! You really never know what you’ll find! People sell tons of stuff at (usually) rock bottom prices. You can also have your own garage sale to make a little money! I had one last year with what I thought was a bunch of junk and made over $400 in 2 days. It was fabulous!
  17. Go to the library. I love to read and I own enough books to open my own bookstore. But, I live in a town with a truly pathetic excuse for a library. It’s a musty old room in the basement of the old courthouse that stinks to high heaven and probably doesn’t have a book that was published after 1968. Most towns in this country have a library with a large collection of books and DVD’s that you can check out for free! If we ever get a real one, I will most likely live there!
  18. Borrow CD’s. If you’re a music lover, check with your friends before you go out and buy or download a CD. I’m all for artists being paid for their work, but I’m also big on saving money. Borrow a friend’s CD’s and burn a copy or ask them to burn your favorite songs from their digital music collection. But, be sure to return the favor!
  19. Try it before you buy it! If you’re thinking about making a purchase, especially a big one, try it first! If it’s just the latest lotion, look for a trial or travel size. Otherwise, check with your friends and borrow the item, look for rentals, or read product reviews. I have a nasty back injury and really wanted an inversion table. Luckily, I was able to borrow one from a friend first. I absolutely hate that thing! And I was ready to go lay down $200 because I was just so sure it would make me feel better!
  20. Do your own taxes! It drives me crazy when my friends go to a tax prep service and pay a couple hundred dollars. Check out the IRS website for Free-file services. Most people qualify, you do it online through a reputable company, and you get your entire refund in your account in less than 2 weeks! The software asks you the same questions that the preparer would. You just put the info in yourself instead of paying someone to do it for you.
  21. Try free activities. We spend a lot of money on activities and entertainment. Check into other options to cut that expense. One of my favorites is Geocaching. It’s outside, it’s active, and it’s FUN! Kids and adults love it. You can also turn off the TV & lights and go for a walk or visit a local park.  Check out The Home Depot’s Kids’ Workshop on the first Saturday of every month. Lowe’s also has one and it’s on a different weekend! These are great for kids. They get to build something with wood and best of all, spend time with you! There are always special projects for Mother’s and Father’s day so the kids can give you a special gift that they made and it doesn’t cost a thing!

This is a small list, but making just a couple of changes can lead to savings that will eventually add up. If you have any tips or ideas to save money or cut bills, please leave a comment so others can take advantage of them!


Cut Your Grocery Bill without Coupons!


Posted on : 09-04-2011 | By : Trish | In : Coupon Matchups, Daily Deals, Free Stuff

I love my coupons! Couponing has helped me cut my grocery bill by more than half, and I love to share my couponing know-how with others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I don’t have time to cut coupons,” or “I’m not that organized.”  It’s really not that time consuming or difficult and I am one of the most unorganized people I know, but there are ways to save on groceries without using coupons.  Here are some of my favorite tips.

  1. DON’T shop when you’re hungry. I know you’ve heard it before, but this tip is so important! I’ve broken this rule more than once and I end up overspending every single time. And I buy more unhealthy junk when I shop on an empty stomach. Eat before you go.
  2. Shop the sales. If you’re not going to get a discount by using a coupon, at least take advantage of your store’s sale prices. Check the sales flyers (in print or online) and plan your trip around what’s on sale.
  3. Sign up for the rewards card. Almost all stores have a rewards card and they’re free. Most of the time you need it to get the sale price on items. A lot of them also collect info about your shopping habits and you’ll get coupons for the products you normally buy or their competitors.
  4. Plan your trip! If you’re just going to “pick up a few things” with no plan, you’re probably going to overspend. Plan your menu, see what you already have on hand, and make a list of what you need. Know what’s on sale and stick to your list.
  5. Check the sell-by date. Meat is usually marked down once or twice per week. Your store most likely has a certain day that they mark down. Ask the butcher when the markdowns happen and shop on that day. When meat is close to the sell-by date, you can save 50% or more! Get a vacuum sealing system and freeze what you won’t use right away. I use the Ziploc Vacuum Freezer Bag system and I love it!
  6. Go meatless. No, I’m not saying you should become a vegetarian. Meat is one of the most expensive grocery items we buy. Pick one or two nights a week to have a meatless dinner. One of our favorites is Cheesy Baked Ziti with salad & garlic bread. Yum!
  7. Have breakfast for dinner. Breakfast is normally cheaper than dinner. I’m not talking about a bowl of cereal, either. Try omelet night or pancakes, waffles, or french toast. One of my favorites is biscuits & gravy with sausage or bacon. Now that’s a yummy dinner!
  8. Make your own snack packs. When packing a lunchbox, make your own individual-sized snack packs instead of buying pre-packaged ones. Those little bags of Cheez-Its are convenient, but the big box is much cheaper and it’s not difficult at all to put a handfull in a container or snack-sized sandwich bag.
  9. Grow your own produce! Not all of us live in a place where we can grow a garden, but even in an apartment, you can grow a tomato or pepper plant and an herb garden. I’m so excited about my own garden this year! The ground has just been tilled and is almost ready to plant! (Thanks, Kim!)
  10. Visit farmer’s markets. This is a better choice in a number of ways! You are supporting local farmers, the produce is fresher, and it’s almost always cheaper than the grocery store! Think about it. Do you want lettuce from Mexico or from the farm down the street? Yeah, me too. (Thanks, Mayerlin!)
  11. Buy the store brand. Let’s face it. The national brand just tastes better in some cases. But in others, there is little to no difference between store and national brands…other than the price, that is. Try it with pasta. I use whole wheat pasta and we can’t tell the difference between the store brand and the name brand. Now, if only someone would make generic Nutella…
  12. Ditch the bottled water. We all love the convenience of bottled water, but it’s super expensive. Especially if you use those little powder packets to turn it into something else anyway. Get a filter system (I use a Brita pitcher) and some reusable bottles. Pretty soon you won’t even miss the bottled stuff.
  13. Shop less often. This goes right along with making a list and planning your trip. Try to shop once a week or less and get what you need so that you cut out those little trips to “pick up a few things.”
  14. See what you can eliminate. Do you have a popcorn lover in the house? I sure do. My son has popcorn every day after school. We can buy those convenient microwave bags, but we save a bundle by using an airpopper and bulk popcorn. I can pop about 50 bowls of popcorn for the same price of a box of 4 microwave bags. You can get a hot air popcorn popper from Amazon for about $20 here:
  15. Presto 114316 04820 PopLite Hot Air Corn Popper

  16. Make it yourself! There are a number of things like popcorn that you can make yourself instead of buying it premade. Make your own iced tea, cookies, biscuits, mashed potatoes, chicken salad, etc., etc. It’s often healthier and cheaper to make stuff yourself. I used to buy frozen biscuits (and they were yummy), but they were expensive. I’ve finally mastered the art of the buttermilk biscuit and we save a bundle!

If you have any tips or ideas about saving money on groceries without coupons, please leave a comment so others can take advantage of it! Look for a list of ways to save in other areas coming soon!